The Netherlands / Fortification
Throughout the centuries, the caves around Valkenburg offered a safe haven in turbulent times. Intensive marl mining had gradually created a gigantic labyrinth of corridors. The caves with their wide ramifications also served as hiding places during the Second World War, especially from mid-September 1944 when the residents fled en masse from fierce shelling. The hundreds of Valkenburg residents in the Gemeentegrot were only liberated after a week.
In total, an estimated five thousand people had sought refuge in the vast labyrinths. After the liberation, the Americans set up a field hospital in the Gemeentegrot. It also gave the men a chance to recuperate from the fighting at the frontline. Their signatures in the soft marl of the corridor system are silent witnesses to their presence.
A number of silhouettes of the last group of soldiers who visited the corridor system deserve special mention. The portrait of former President Roosevelt by G.I. Thomas Houdeis a real eye-catcher.